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Like a lot of kids who grew up in the 80s I was a huge NBA fan.

Besides the usual childhood appeal of sports though, it was also a matter of timing. The 80s ushered in the start of a golden era of such magnitude for the league that for the next 1.5 decades the NBA often rivaled the NFL in terms of cultural awareness. With two star-laden dynasties battling it out for supremacy each year (three if you count the Pistons of the late 80s), as well as a league full of charismatic players it was easy to see the appeal. It was competitive and entertaining with star power of the highest order (and major TV coverage to boot.)

As the league transitioned from the Lakers/Celtics/Pistons-led era of the 80s to the Bulls-dominated era of the 90s, the exposure ramped up even more as the greatest player of all time took center stage. I was still a fan during much of this era. But the total dominance of Jordan and the Bulls eventually left me feeling a bit cold toward the league. I didn't dislike Jordan or the Bulls. I think dynasties are good for sports. People need something to champion (or pull against.) But I also think it's FAR more engaging when a dynasty has a worthy rival to create drama. Other than the occasional Rockets or Jazz team, the Bulls did not have that consistent counterbalance throughout their great run. And because Jordan and the Bulls absorbed so much of the limelight it never allowed for a new generation of personalities to gain a cultural following like you had in the 80s. This is what eventually led to the massive dropoff in the league's profile in the post-Jordan era.

And even though the league has made tremendous strides in recent years, it's a problem the NBA is still trying to overcome. That's why I've personally found the TV spots for the NBA 'Amazing' campaign to be so compelling. Rather than trying to be too hip of flashy, the simple elegance of the spots remind me of a time when the league was exactly that - a league people cared about because of the personalities and the competition. The SportsCenter snapshot view of the world we're now accustomed to desensitizes these aspects. It's refreshing to see a more simplistic summation of the game.


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